By Norma Higgs
Niagara Gazette — We have all experienced much sadness lately and while we grieve for the loss of 20 children and their teachers and mentors, it came a lot closer to home for me when I lost my friend, neighbor and block club supporter Connie Rodhy around the same time.
“Aunt” Connie as many called her was a friend to everyone and was a caretaker herself driving anyone to medical tests and visits as the need arose. Although we graduated from high school together, I first met her when she appeared at my door back in 1995 with candidate James Galie who was campaigning for mayor. She lived on 7th Street, around the corner from me and was introducing him to her neighborhood. Our paths crossed again when she came to console me in 1996 following a robbery and assault in my garage as she read about it in the Niagara Gazette. With her help, we started the Blockbusters Block Club and became fast friends. Connie stepped up and became treasurer of the club and hosted meetings in her home when the Methodist Church closed.
Dorothy, Kerry, Elsie. Bernice, Greg, Curt, Dot and Ernie, Larry and Joanne and others would enjoy attending our neighborhood group and Connie made us very welcome.
She and I would often ride around the neighborhood listing probable housing code violations and trash problems. She would drive and I would write and take photos which we presented to our area inspector Dennis Virtuoso at the next meeting. We also held picnics at our block club park on Eighth Street and I could count on her help at Crime Night Out as well.
Connie’s birthday was in May and mine in July so we treated ourselves to dinner every year during June at the Western Door Steak House at the Seneca Niagara Casino. Some years our friends would join in and we had someone to share those large “sides” they serve. We volunteered together at the Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center gift shop on Sunday afternoons a few years ago until we realized there were not enough customers to make it worthwhile as we usually ended up just sitting and knitting and selling an occasional candy bar. She remained loyal and volunteered at the shop on other days and I went on to others things.
We always supported the auxiliary events and I missed her at the Holiday Luncheon this year during her illness. She was a regular “rocker” at the annual Auxiliary Rock-A-Thon in April and had many friends through this organization.
During 2006 while I was at my son’s in Maryland, my water lines froze and it was raining on my dining room table. Connie came to the rescue and offered her spare room to me as I had to vacate the premises. Following permission from my insurance carrier, I rented her remaining vacant apartment next door and we spent a lot of time together. She was working at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church at the time and she would take me along to dinner at Father Duane’s when she was invited. He makes the best pizza. When I moved back home in June, we would still eat together at her house or mine or we would go out on Friday nights for “you know what.”
Although Connie was a widow and had no children of her own, she was very close to her immediate family and various nieces and nephews were always in her life. She included me in her families’ holiday feasts and I was also included to watch the Fourth of July fireworks at her nephew’s mother-in-law’s great viewing spot on Buffalo Avenue. We usually caught up with current events in early morning telephone conversations about neighborhood problems, coming events and other gossip.
Her life was as busy as mine and we became involved in many of the same organizations like the Friends of the Local History Department where we met Pete Ames and Larry Steele. She followed them and joined the Board of Directors at Oakwood Cemetery where many improvements have been made under their watch.
Connie loved her family, her friends, her church and her two cats, Timmy and Tommy. She showed this love in many ways some of which I have mentioned. As we begin to celebrate the Christmas season it will be harder without her but I am sure she has joined her late husband Ken and family members and is busy catching up with departed friends and making new ones. Please keep her in your thoughts. Sleep in Heavenly Peace Aunt Connie ...Norma Higgs serves with the Niagara Beautification Commission and Niagara Falls Block Club Council.